REGULATING THE FEMALE BODY: SUMPTUARY LAWS AND GODLY MODESTY
8) According to Hughes, Siena allowed to prostitutes the "silks, belts and platform shoes that honourable women wanted but that the city's sumptuary law
denied them" (25).
First, she argued that her proposal was distinct from other sumptuary laws
because it prohibited the use of foreign goods rather than their importation.
Kovesi Killerby, Sumptuary Law
, 38; Vincent, Costume and Conduct, pp.
Her covered face, defying the sumptuary laws
at the time that prohibited veiling, illustrates one of the fundamental reasons for the banning of such coverings--the invisibility of class difference.
Exploring Fortune in the pseudo-Boethian De Disciplina Scholarium (and its English commentators Trevet and Wheatley; de Lille's Anticlaudianus; de Meun's Roman de la Rose; Chaucer's Fortune and his other works; Lydgate's The Fall of Princes; and Charles, Duke of Orleans's Fortunes Stabilnes) and relating the texts to sumptuary laws
and authorial biography, Denny-Brown reveals Fortune's self-fashioning; how her changeability of dress fuses with the new concept of fashion; the relationship of her clothing to morality; and ultimately (in Orleans's poem), her constancy in an ever-changing world.
The citizens of Chester were especially familiar with sumptuary law
due to a prosecution that took place in that city under a 1554 act forbidding silk to anyone under the status of 'magistrate of corporation' that carried a penalty of three months in prison and a fine of 10 [pounds sterling].
England's first sumptuary law
was passed in 1336 and was in fact "an alimentary statute," a law concerned strictly with food, specifically with the overly elaborate fare of the landed gentry.
In the same way that sumptuary law
imparts meaning to the forms of dress (the purple thread woven into a Roman toga, the length of sword permitted to an Elizabethan gallant), it can arrange a society's seating plan (proletarians allowed to occupy no more than 5,000 seats in Yankee Stadium for a World Series game), establish the hierarchy of polite behaviors and preferred taste (the caviar or the candied apple, the California zinfandel, or the rotgut Kentucky bourbon), determine which magazines may be sold in supermarkets (Glamour, not Maxim), and pluck from the playing fields of the NFL any referee too fat or too clumsy to be seen on television.
1996 Governance of the passions: A history of sumptuary law
Rejecting efforts to establish liberalism through its separation from feudalism, Alan Hunt provides a nuanced account of sumptuary law
A sumptuary law
was passed by the Massachusetts General Court prohibiting the purchase of woolen, linen, or silk clothes with silver, gold, silk, or thread lace on them.